When CupcakeCamp DC posted that they had an opening for a fan judge, I jumped at the opportunity. Finally I could put all of my “practice” into use, and for a great cause. CupcakeCamp DC is in its third year and raises money for DC Candlelighters: Childhood Cancer Foundation. I’ve heard criticism about the past years, but being a new event organized by a single person, that’s expected. Each year changes have been made to make a better experience for all who participate.
This year the event was held at the very chic Continental Modern Pool Lounge, located in Arlington, VA (but right over the bridge from Georgetown Park in DC). From a judge’s perspective, check-in was super easy. I saw that a line was forming, mostly due to the rain bringing in people from the Jazz Festival across the street, but was able to bypass it with my oh-so-important title. I checked in with a volunteer, who had the list on his phone and took my spot at the judges’ table. The other blogging judges arrived and then cupcakes started coming our way.
Judging went fairly smoothly. Cupcakes were brought to us, in no particular order. Finding them on our score sheet was fairly easy, unless a baker switched up their entry at the last minute. We asked for knives to divide the cupcakes among the judges, but there weren’t any available. Luckily none of us were germaphobes, so we decided that we would dig in and wipe off excess frosting and cake on our forks, instead of slobbering all over them. We had to request forks, napkins, water, and a trash bag. The volunteer, who was working hard and running around a lot to bring the cupcakes to us, didn’t look too thrilled with our requests…but how else could we taste the cupcakes? Other than that, the judges were treated well and, to show their appreciation, we all received event t-shirts and awesome swag bags, provided by Izze, one of the event sponsors.
I asked Crusader Stacy for insight from an attendee’s perspective. She said that when they arrived there was a line and it seemed a bit disorganized, but that could have been due to the rain and people who hadn’t registered wanting to get in. Lines also seem to form at these cupcake events because the guests are aware that it’s first come first served. Although the venue could be tight to navigate sometimes, it had a great ambiance. It seems like people enjoyed that you could order adult beverages and there were a lot of areas to lounge and indulge in cupcakes. The venue also offers game tables, like billiards, for added entertainment. Stacy mentioned that she and Crusader Elisa did not realize that the people’s choice ballot was in the brochure, and wished they had known. At the end of the event, it was hard to hear the winners (I think due to background sound…not much you can do about that) and it was a little confusing when announcing the winners was mixed in with the announcing the raffle prizes. Luckily all the winners heard their names called, and we were all very excited that Joel Gill, from Josie’s Confections, took first place for his Chicken N Waffle Cupcake!
1st Place CupcakeCamp DC Winner & Crusaders’ Favorite:
Chicken N Waffle Cupcake by Joel Gill
It’s no surprise that we adore Joel’s cupcake, having first had it at our 2012 DC Cupcake Picnic (see Crusaders’ review). What did surprise me was that the other judges were very excited to try a Chicken N Waffle cupcake, especially when most people question this creation. I was relieved when they all agreed that it was the best they’d had all day.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcake by Hilary Nelson
Stacy and Elisa both agreed that this was their favorite cupcake of the day. It had a peanut butter cake with grape jam filling, topped with peanut butter buttercream and grape coulis. They both love the nostalgia of PB&J cupcakes and thought the grape was a nice change from the strawberry jams most bakers use.
Earl Grey Cupcake by Tess McEnery
This cupcake was a standout for me on this day. I have wanted to try a tea-infused cupcake and I think Earl Grey was a perfect choice, with its hint of lemon flavor. The base was an Earl Grey buttermilk cake with Earl Grey and lemon buttercream frosting. Crusader Stacy also really liked this cupcake and would like to dabble in making her own tea-infused cupcakes. She described it as, “Heaven for a tea drinker, with light, airy cake and spot-on flavor.”
Crusaders’ Honorable Mentions:
We would also like to recognize some of the other cupcakes we enjoyed, with our own Honorable Mentions (separate from the CupcakeCamp DC winners):
1. Megan Ferrey, from Cakes by Megan: Banana chocolate chip cake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with peanut butter frosting.
2. Monika Geraci, 2ND Place CupcakeCamp DC Winner & Crowd Favorite: Salted Caramel Apple – apple spice cake filled with salted caramel and topped with cream cheese frosting and a caramel drizzle.
5. Melissa Westervelt, from Honeybee Bakeshop: Pumpkin spice latte – pumpkin espresso cake topped with cinnamon and spiced buttercream and a caramel/fondant pumpkin pie decoration.
4. Claire Almquist: Chai tea latte cupcake with buttercream frosting.
So Many Cupcakes!
The three of us all tasted so many cupcakes at the event, obviously with me trying the most:
1. Amanda Rouse 3RD Place CupcakeCamp DC Winner: Vanilla cupcake with Nutella ganache and Nutella buttercream topped with roasted hazelnuts.
2. Shelly Facemire, 4TH Place CupcakeCamp DC Winner & Crowd Favorite: Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache.
3. Shanika, from Couture Cakes by Nika: Lemon lavender cupcake topped with lavender butter cream, candied lemon, and an edible lavender flower.
4. Valerie Estep, from Silver Swirl Cupcake: Salted Caramel & Chocolate – Butter yellow cake with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and topped with a chocolate covered pretzel.
5. Heather Jesness: Vanilla bean cupcake with chocolate frosting.
6. Megan Ferrey, from Cakes by Megan: Dark chocolate cherry filled cake with pistachio meringue buttercream.
7. Kelly Zonderwyk: Lemon lavender cupcake with a glaze and filled with lemon curd.
8. Elisabeth Shankle: Banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting.
9. Shannon Paciorek: Key Lime Pie Cupcake – Graham cracker crust, lime infused cake filled with a lime curd, and lime cream cheese frosting.
10. Paola Veronica: Mini mocha cupcake with espresso buttercream.
11. Chinwe Aldridge: Vanilla cupcake with cream cheese/buttercream frosting, graham crackers, white chocolate, candies, and shoe decoration.
12. Alicia Hadley: Red velvet cake with a walnut cream cheese frosting.
13. Katie Walker: Canoli Cupcake – Vanilla cupcake with orange zest, ricotta and chocolate chip filling, and vanilla buttercream frosting with chocolate garnish.
14. Kat Harper: Chocolate cake with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream
15. Jennifer Hlad: Hummingbird cupcake with coconut cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.
16. Meghan Ochs: Vanilla cupcake, with cinnamon apple compote, topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting and a caramel drizzle.
17. Kathleen Mudge: Vanilla bean cupcake with chocolate fudge icing, topped with a brownie truffle and cookie.
18. Michelle Byers: German chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with bacon.
19. Danny McGibney: Sweet potato pie cupcakes with browned buttercream frosting.
20. Mini Guinness Cupcake (not in competition – baker unknown)
The 2012 CupcakeCamp DC raised $2,000 for DC Candlelighters and in the end we all had a really great time, Stacy and Elisa as guests and myself as a judge. I met some great people and I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings, but I think I’ll just enjoy the event as a spectator or volunteer. Twenty-five cupcakes were A LOT to taste!
To see more event more photos, visit CupcakeCamp’s DC Flikr pool.
– Posted by Cupcake Crusader, Jenn (Westminster, MD)